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Benara Nurseries improves bar-coding flexibility with Matthews

Supplier: Matthews Australasia
26 May, 2010

Installing a FOX IV 3000 Label Printer Applicator (LPA), using the 'tamp blow' application method, has enabled Benara Nurseries to quickly and efficiently individualise bar coding product for the increasing number of customers who need their own label format.

Key facts:

  • Benara Nurseries needed to automate applying individualised bar codes onto pot plants travelling along a conveyor line.
  • FOX IV 3000 LPA installed to replace a loose web label applicator that was no longer up to the job.
  • 1:1 label print-and-apply capacity and "tamp blow" application ideal for Benara's needs.
  • Wastage eliminated as each label printed is the next to be applied.
  • Staff freed for more productive duties.

Family owned and operated, Benara Nurseries in Western Australia is Australia's largest wholesale nursery. It has been supplying major retail chains and other retail nurseries with high quality, affordable wholesale plants since 1963.

Benara's IT Manager, Dane Sutton, says the nursery was looking to improve its method of applying bar-code labels onto pot plants, with an increasing number of customers requiring their own label formats. Often these include the retailer's name as well as the plant type and bar code.

"We needed a way to apply individualised bar coding within our existing automated system, which directs product to transport bays dependent on several databases," Dane says.

"For example, out of a batch of say, 20, of a particular plant, 5 might go to chain A, 5 to chain B, 6 to chain C and 4 to another retail nursery.

"Our loose web label applicator was no longer suitable. Ten or more pre-printed labels could be sitting on the web between the print-head and the applicator every time we needed to change the label format."

After comparing several brands, Benara installed a FOX IV 3000 Label Printer Applicator (LPA) from Matthews Intelligent Identification.

Using the non-contact "tamp blow" application method, labels are individually printed and placed onto a vacuum pad, then extended close to the product and blown onto the pot. The machine has the 1:1 label print-and-apply capability essential to Benara's operation - each label printed is the next to be applied.

Dane says Benara is very pleased with the speed of the printer and the simplicity of the blow-on label application method.

"The machine has an extremely fast image building and graphics capability," he says, "and we can adapt it very easily to match the speed of the conveyor line and the gaps between pots."

The FOX IV 3000 LPA's swing-away cylinder gives easy access to the print-head, while platen rollers make media changes and maintenance quick and easy.

"It allows us to correctly bar code our plants with much greater efficiency," Dane says, "as well as improving traceability and reducing the risk of human error in our despatch system. It has greatly reduced the number of paper reports that have to be printed, too."

The end result has been a very positive impact on Benara's efficiency and productivity.

"Before we installed the new system, the only way we could provide customers with individualised bar coding was by applying their labels by hand after the plants had reached the transport bay," Dane says.

"Eliminating this time-consuming and tedious job has not only enabled us to provide an essential service to our customers more efficiently, it has also freed our own staff for more pleasant and productive duties."

Originally published on the Matthews blog